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Indonesia's President Jokowi defends new jobs law, says protests fuelled by disinformation

Indonesia's President Jokowi defends new jobs law, says protests fuelled by disinformation

A demonstrator holds an Indonesian flag during a protest against the government's labour reforms in a controversial jobs creation law in Jakarta on Oct 8, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

JAKARTA: Indonesia's President Joko Widodo defended his flagship job creation law on Friday (Oct 9) after violent protests erupted earlier this week opposing the legislation.

The country, Jokowi said, needed the sweeping "omnibus" law to provide employment for its young population and those who were unemployed due to the economic crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the protests, he said: "I saw demonstrations against the job creation law that were basically motivated by disinformation."

He urged critics to challenge the law at the Constitutional Court if they disagreed with its content.

Critics say the "omnibus" law undermines labour rights and weakens environmental protections. Labour unions, students and academics have criticised the Bill for a perceived lack of consultation and expedited passage.

READ: Indonesian Muslim and union groups to fight new jobs law in court

READ: Indonesia's jobs law endangers environment, say activists and investors

Earlier on Friday, Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan had said he would inform the president of protesters' demands for the polarising law to be repealed, as a growing number of regional leaders oppose the new legislation.

At least four other governors have told protesters they would write to the president asking for the law to be cancelled, according to their statements and local media reports.

Nearly 13,000 police officers were deployed on Thursday to block access to government buildings in central Jakarta, but they failed to stop protesters from making their way to the heart of the capital.

READ: Protesters torch police posts as opposition mounts to new Indonesia law

Tear gas was fired near the presidential palace in Jakarta on Thursday afternoon, with clashes erupting at around 2pm.

Some protesters burned tyres, vandalised bus stops and dismantled partitions of a construction site while others were seen smashing bricks and concretes into smaller pieces to be hurled at the police.

Source: Reuters/kg

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